jo skates

Thoughts about skating and the practice of everyday life

Growing older and post-sweater project postings

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Wrapping up my mom’s sweater project this week, and I’m thinking about some new ideas for future posts. Maybe I’ll write about some of the pre-gold and gold dances; I’m so excited to be working on these (finally!). I had a great lesson last week from Laurie on the Viennese waltz (the 1-1-3 timing on the forward and backwards progressives, outside-outside edges, and the outside mohawk). And all those new exercises that I need to write down or I will forget them, like the one I got last week: alternating back crossovers with a change of edge/edge pull in between.

It’s funny to be at an age when everyone seems to be talking about their bodies getting older and creakier, and I’m ranting about making progress on edges and turns that most elite figure skaters learn way before they hit adolescence. But I do seem to be moving along (or maybe I’m just imagining it).

But no, it must be true. A funny thing happened in my lesson this week. I was doing the three-step inside mohawk sequence (inside mohawk, inside edge, step forward to an inside edge and repeat on the other side) and Ari said “It’s getting better” and I was so surprised I almost fell down on the next one. Definitely not used to mohawk-inspired praise!

Speaking of life-long learning, Laurie sent me a link to a recent article in the New York Times Magazine: a lovely essay by Lewis Lapham and a set of interviews with some very famous people who, even in their 80s and 90s, are still working, still creative, still vital.  It is definitely worth reading. Here are my favorite excerpts (with my favorite quotes in bold):

Writer Lewis H. Lapham (who edited Harper’s Magazine for many years as well as wrote many books and articles):

Now I am 79. I’ve written many hundreds of essays, 10 times that number of misbegotten drafts both early and late, and I begin to understand that failure is its own reward. It is in the effort to close the distance between the work imagined and the work achieved wherein it is to be found that the ceaseless labor is the freedom of play, that what’s at stake isn’t a reflection in the mirror of fame but the escape from the prison of the self.

Runner Ginette Bedard (she is 81 and ran her first marathon at age 69), when asked “How long will you keep running marathons?”

I’m going to do this until destiny takes me away. When they gave me the last trophy last Sunday for the half marathon in Central Park, the trophy said, ‘‘From 80 to 99,’’ and I thought, O.K., I’ve got 20 years to go yet. There’s no one left. It’s easy to win.

Actor Christopher Plummer, who is 84. The interviewer says, “I keep hearing that staying in shape is crucial past a certain age. Anything else?” He replies:

Yes. And so is doing the work. It uplifts you. The idea that you’re doing what you love. It’s very important. It’s very sad that most people in the world are not happy with their lot or with their jobs and they can’t wait to retire. And when they retire, it’s like death. . . . They sit at home and watch the television. And that is death. I think you’ve got to continue. We never retire. We shouldn’t retire. Not in our profession. There’s no such thing. We want to drop dead onstage. That would be a nice theatrical way to go.

Actress Betty White who is 92, when asked “What do people get most wrong about being old?”

We’ve made age such a terrible thing that the younger people think that just getting to that age is awful. But if you’re blessed with good health, and I am, and I never take it for granted, you can get by with murder! You get spoiled rotten.

Speaking of spoiled rotten, here is what I can get away with in a leopard print top at age 54. This was also my mother’s (who wore it into her 80s!).

The last word on the subject belongs to Albert Camus, from his “Retour à Tipasa” (Return to Tipasa) [1952].

Au milieu de l’hiver, j’apprenais enfin qu’il y avait en moi un été invincible. (In the midst of winter I found, there was, within me, an invincible summer.)

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Author: Joskates

Don't see me on the ice? I may be in the classroom or at the theater, or hanging out with my family and friends.

4 thoughts on “Growing older and post-sweater project postings

  1. I’m right there with you, Jo. I’m still learning some of the “easy” elements and edge work that elite skaters learned when they were 8. It’s not as easy learning these things as an adult, but we just have to keep on keepin’ on! 🙂

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  2. Yup, absolutely. Sometimes I think to myself, “well you can stop skating if you want.” But then I always seem to follow it with, “And then you can lay down and die.” Morbid, but it makes me laugh! Especially when it’s while practicing those left outside three-turns.

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  3. Some great quotes! I love reading about inspiring, vital older people. I think you get to a point in life where you realize it’s now or never for some goals, I certainly got that way with skating. I might not have the body I had earlier in my life, but it’s what I have to work with and can still do a lot. I find that adult skaters look a lot younger than their age, especially the legs!

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    • Thanks! You’ve put it beautifully. There are a lot of inspiring adult skaters that I share the rink with, and we all talk about how lucky we are to still be able to do what we do. Perhaps exercising on ice (in what amounts to a rink-sized refrigerator) does mean we keep for longer!

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